Saturday, 9 November 2013

What's Your Closet?

Have you ever watched TED Talks? They're short 5 - 20 minute talks given by people on every single topic under the sun. Some of them are scientific. Some are funny. Some display skills that blow your mind and some relate advice for living life and being awesome. They generally leave you inspired and mind-blown! Yesterday I watched one given by Ash Beckham, take a look at it here.

If you're too lazy or don't have a good enough internet connection (the joys of living in Africa) here's a summary:

Ash compares all difficult conversations or situations to coming out the closet. She knows about these difficult conversations, as she literally had to have her own difficult conversation when she admitted to her family and friends that she was gay. She urges people to stop ranking their difficult conversations, trying to out-do each other in "hardness". Difficult conversations are hard, full stop. She recognises that whatever closet you come out of, you will be challenged and you will need to take a dose of courage to do it. She encourages us to sympathise with others, instead of judging them as every single person has their own closet to come out of. 

She shares some awesome bits of advice, that all came to her after an interaction with a little girl at the diner that she worked at. This little girl asked her whether she was a boy or a girl and even though she was ready to go all hardcore lesbian on this tiny little girl, she instead gave her the answer that she was more of a comfy pj's girl than a pink dresses girl. The little girl responds by describing her own pj's and then asking for her pancakes. Easiest hard conversation ever.

And the advice she gives when you have to have a hard conversation of your own?

1. Be Authentic
2. Be Direct
3. Be Unapologetic

I think it's definitely advice we can all relate to. She finishes off by encouraging people to never apologise for being true to yourself. Any expectations that others have of you, are ultimately their expectations of you. And if the reality does not live up to their expectations then they need to manage their expectations of you, as long as your expectations of yourself allow you to stay true to who you are. 

When having difficult conversations of my own, I've found that the easiest difficult conversations have always been ones in which I've followed the advice above (or when others have followed that advice with me). Be sensitive to the way that you convey your information, but don't pussy-foot around something so that by the end of the conversation you don't actually know what the point was - you'll just have to have that conversation all over again.

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